February 5, 2010

Double take – Power Plays


The limited overs version of cricket has witnessed so many changes in the past decade. One that has left a huge impact in the way the game is played is the introduction of “Power Plays”. Moving from the first 15 overs of mandatory field restriction, ODI’s now have split the field restrictions into 3 periods of play.

PP1- the mandatory 1-10 overs – 2 fielders allowed outside 30 yards circle and 2 fielders in catching positions (15 yards).
Bowling PP – taken by the fielding team – 5 overs – 3 fielders allowed outside outside 30 yards circle.
Batting PP – taken by the batting team – 5 overs – 3 fielders allowed outside outside 30 yards circle.

The introduction of this system was brought to add to the excitement of ODI’s which had become dull with teams playing aggressive only in the first 15 overs and last 10 overs. Dry period of play, meant not much aggression or risk was taken by the batting team in the 20th to 40th overs of play. So, these powerplays were introduced, where in the fielding team would dictate when the field would come up and the batsmen would have to go for the kill. This system dint work for long and thus, one PP was given to the fielding team captain and one to the batting team captain. They can decide to have 5 overs of PP at any point in the game (of course not at the same time). If both captains fail to take the powerplays before the 40th over. Then 41-45 will the bowling PP and 46-50 will be the batting PP by default. Most captains have struggled with the decision of inviting the PP. Almost every fielding team captain prefers to opt for the bowling PP as soon as the mandatory PP (1-10) ends i.e. 11th-15th over with their fast bowlers fresh and going strong. The batting PP however has raised many opposite views on when it needs to be taken to make the most of it.

Mock’s point
I have always wondered why most of the teams take their batting power-play after the 40th over. After seeing through the mid overs slowly, they suddenly take the PP in the 40+ overs. This leads to a series of wickets and in the end, the batting power-play proves fatal. I don't see any point of taking the power-play during the 43/44th over. Isn't it the time to go after the bowlers, irrespective of whether the power-play is on or not. For me the right time to take the power-play is during the 30-35 period when the batsmen are pretty set and this might give them the momentum while entering the slog overs. Again, when a batsman gets out during this power-play, the next batsman has some time for him to settle down and get an eye in. How many times have we seen wickets tumbling during the batting power-play and still the teams don’t seem to learn from it. So buck up teams, have a look at this post and “USE YOUR BRAINS” :)


Steam’s Counter

True to what Mock feels, the momentum is required going into the final overs and irrespective to the field and powerplay the batsmen have to slog towards the end. I guess most captains want to only make it easier for the hitters by having just 2 men in the deep rather than 5 patrolling the boundaries. This means the hitters have lesser pressure if at all they manage to clear the in-field. Also considering the batting team has lost 4/5 wkts in 25 overs of play. Taking the batting PP early is suicide, as the pressure to accelerate is on and the chance once gone will not return. It only makes sense to delay the powerplay and take measured risks. For instance the Indo-Pak game in the champions trophy match in 2009 when Dravid & Raina were really in control of the chase, India fumbled in taking the batting PP early. Raina fell in that phase of play and no one after him was able to keep the score ticking and wickets continued to fall. Dravid seemed helpless in the end and India lost the game as a result. To me the term “PowerPlay” only make sense if the bowling and batting PP’s are taken as a part of strategy rather than routine. Assessing your situation to achieve the best possible outcome regardless when it is customary to take it.

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